With harvest season approaching soon – Story County Farm Bureau wishes to be proactive and prevent anyone from our county from becoming a victim of a grain bin accident — please support the fundraiser for at least nine grain bin rescue tubes for the following fire departments: Cambridge, Collins, Colo, Gilbert, Huxley, Kelley, Maxwell and McCallsburg. The other fire departments – Roland, Slater, Story City and Zearing already have grain bin rescue tubes, but need additional training and supplies. The Nevada Fire Department was also supposed to get a set of tubes, but recently was awarded a set from Farm Credit Services of America. (See story below)

Entering grain bins is dangerous, and farm safety experts say grain producers should develop a "zero entry" mentality. Stay out of the bin, but if you must enter, do not go alone. Grain entrapment is one of the least understood hazards in today’s family farm operations. There are simple, inexpensive safety techniques that can help avoid grain bin fatalities.

Grain bin entrapments are sad reminders that grain storage can be deadly. It takes only five seconds for a person to be caught in flowing grain, and less than 20 seconds to be sucked into the center of the grain, which acts much like quicksand. A child can be buried in far less time.

Grain’s weight and other properties make it difficult to get out of a bin without assistance. Grain resists the force a rescuer uses to remove the victim. It takes more than 325 pounds of force to raise a 165-pound mannequin covered in corn.

Farmers who have worked around grain bins all of their lives might think this won’t happen to them. But the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that at least 26 U.S. workers were killed in grain engulfments in 2010, the highest on record. Since then, OSHA has inspected numerous bins and is committed to changing the ‘it won’t happen to me’ mindset.

All augers and grain-moving equipment should be turned off before anyone enters a bin. Farmers and their employees should never "walk down" grain from the bin’s sides to make it flow, or walk on crusted or bridged grain, which can collapse under a person’s weight. If there is crusted or bridged grain, workers should use a tool to probe the surface from outside the bin. Grain producers can design and install reclaim systems that allow access to the grain without having to enter the bins.

Moist grain can form toxic gases and fumes. Bins should be checked for these gases before entering. Farm families should discuss safety measures with all members, and children should never be near a grain bin. Sadly, many grain bin accidents involve multiple fatalities because of failed rescue attempts.

Grain handlers, bin manufacturers, safety experts and others have formed a national Grain Entrapment Prevention Initiative, which emphasizes six points in bin safety:

1. Develop a "zero entry" mentality. Stay out of the bin.

2. If you must enter, do not go alone.

3. Provide hands-on training for the entrant and observer.

4. Follow an entry permit.

5. Shut down and lockout.

6. Use a secure body harness lifeline.

If there is an accident?

• Shut off all unloading equipment.

• Call 911.

• Stop anyone from entering the scene until trained emergency personnel arrive.

• If the bin has an aeration blower, turn it on to increase the airflow through the bin to help the entrapped person breathe.

• Assemble equipment such as front-end loaders, shovels, plywood for cofferdams and portable augers for assistance with a rescue.

• If you should become trapped in a grain bin or silo, stay near the outer wall and keep moving. If necessary, you can walk until the bin is empty or the flow stops.

For more information about the Grain Bin Rescue Tube fundraiser, contact Story County Farm Bureau at 515-382-2451.

Nevada Fire Department receives two rescue tubes

By Marlys Barker

The Nevada Volunteer Fire Department is the proud owner of two sets of grain bin rescue tubes, thanks to the generous gift of those tubes from Farm Credit Services of America.

Nevada Fire Chief Dana Wipperman said Farm Credit Services picked out several departments in Central Iowa and chose to give them tubes. Nevada was lucky enough to be one of the selected departments. Wipperman said if he was guessing, he’d say it’s probably because the Nevada Department is centrally located in the county and can help out neighboring fire departments on emergencies in their areas.

On Wednesday, Sept. 18, Nevada firefighters gathered at Key Coop, west of Nevada, to receive the tubes, along with some training.

"We had some firefighters volunteer to be stuck (in a truck full of grain), and it was quite impressive to see how the system goes together and the technology of how you can get somebody out of that entrapment," Wipperman said. He said, technology might not be the best way to describe how the tubes work, but "there’s a lot of thought that has gone into these tubes from the manufacturer’s standpoint."

Bottom line, the tubes work. Wipperman explained how they work. "Simply put, it is like putting the pieces of a puzzle together. Firefighters and/or EMTs place the pieces around the trapped victim and put the pieces together. The assembly is then driven down into the grain until there is a shell around the victim. Buckets are then lowered inside the ‘shell’ and loads of grain are taken out…by hand, one bucket at a time, until the victim can be safely removed by firefighters or EMTs."

With the new tubes, Wipperman said his department is "100 percent better prepared (for a grain bin emergency). I’m certainly a believer in (the tubes)," he added.

In the eight years that Wipperman has been in Nevada, the department has not responded to a grain bin entrapment. However, Wipperman said the summer before he came to Nevada there had been a fatality from a grain bin entrapment. It’s something that can and does happen, especially in a rural area.

The Nevada Volunteer Fire Department is excited to have the new tools and is very thankful to Farm Credit Services for the gift, which means that acquiring the equipment didn’t have to stretch its own budget. The Nevada Fire Department was on the list of departments that would have eventually received rescue tubes from the Story County Farm Bureau, which is raising funds to purchase them, but Wipperman said that now the Farm Bureau’s fundraising efforts can help get the tubes for the other departments who still need them.